Who makes a dance? Or, perhaps more appropriate to this Danceworks 20th Anniversary blog series, the question might be better phrased: Who makes a dance work?
In my experience, we do.
During my decade at Danceworks, I had the privilege of moving through some explosive successes and failures as a dancer and as a person. As a dancer-choreographer-teacher-administrator-collaborator, I gained a heightened sense of my self and others through the privilege of dancing. The hyphens in that previous sentence evidence the many personal and professional attachments that I continue to hold in my memory and in my body since I left the organization in 2007.
For me, Danceworks holds a very personal purpose. It is where the invisible work that dance does and is, became visible to me.
[Pause, while she does a big kick, and settles into a slow, not so dramatic, lunge…]
So…here we are. I wish this were less of a monologue. Bound to go nowhere unless you are still reading. Still dancing. Returning to dance. That’s something that Danceworks is and does, for a lot of people. For twenty years and counting.
For me, ten of those years meant dancing around my own type-os, lackluster press releases, audacious titles, and overblown ideas. So here I am, still struggling to find the right way to frame, to label, to “say” what Danceworks means to me.
So… for all that I won’t say, can’t begin to describe. For all that I see and I feel when I close my eyes and think of Danceworks, I offer the following list of one liners.
Incomplete. Still moving. No one person did any of these things. But, in my memory, we all had a pretty amazing time.
So, maybe, dance works, because…
No one can stay calm in a crisis better than Mary Newton.
No one can transform my breathless utterances into a lucid press release with the feminist glory of Polly Morris.
No one asked Amy Brinkman-Sustache to come strutting through the office door just weeks after Gabi was born, carrier-in-tow, ready to help with the next bulk mailing.
No one can stop Janet Lew Carr.
No one can spot optimism and “robust enthusiasm” like Terry Hueneke.
Or, if you prefer, dance works because…
No one can smile, “sell it” and then turn around and schlep all the gear back to the car than the original DPC misfits: Anina Bacon, Cynthia Collins, Joan Fernandez, Andrea Hill, Jen Moore, Laura Teska (Kariotis), Brinkman was there too, I’m quite sure (wasn’t it an Aretha Franklin medley?)…
No one, that is, except for maybe some of the later rebels: Becky Blong, Jeni Frazee, Dani Kuepper, Kelly Nellis, Megan Licht, Kim Johnson, Derek Rusch, Joe Pikalek, Kelly Anderson, Dorothy Kulke, Diana LeMense, Liz Tesch, Paula Koss, Catey Ott, Natasha Posey, Melissa Anderson, Korey Olivier, Dan Schuchart, Renee Griswold…and so many more beginnings and elliptical endings…
Or, quite probably, today, dance works because…
No one can remember how many times we’ve moved the ballet bars out of studio A for an evening performance.
No one can remember to get the lock on the second stall in the women’s restroom fixed.
No one can remember ALL of the UPAF gigs.
No one can spot the type-os on sweatshirts like Melissa Feldmeyer.
No one can laugh louder than Liz Tesch.
No one supports like Dani Kuepper.
No one is more poised and ready than Kim Johnson.
No one can set the sail in as many directions as Deb Farris.
Or from where you sit, reading, dance works because…
No one can…(close your eyes, think for a moment, and insert your memory here).
It’s getting really crowded in here. That’s my point.
No one can. No ONE can. Danceworks, to me, is a midpoint in human connection. A space to return to dance, for whatever reasons, and to experience new results.
I am so lucky to have joined Danceworks, a space to bumble and stumble, to sweat and to fight, and to learn to stomach the taste of my own words. I am so thankful for the people that I hold close today, due to my time with the organization. And I am still, so inspired by the promise of these elliptical endings.
DPC co-founder, artistic director (1997-2007)
UCLA Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance